Translation from experience to memory

We go places and we do things, we live moment to moment not always entirely in the moment (as perhaps we should) but part in the present, past and future. After each moment has expired something happens to it to render it a memory in our brains, an everlasting picture. One that probably changes form over time, but that hopefully remains held within us forever – if the event was significant enough for us to want to do this.

The translation of lived experience into memory is one that science is able to explain away for us, partially at least. There does remain, however, this gap in the process of explanation that cannot quite explain away how our memories work. It’s all fascinating stuff and what got me thinking about it was the consideration of the return from a holiday and the processing of the holiday photographs (no longer in need of actual physical processing of course, merely mental).

You return from a holiday with the experience fresh in your mind; you can still smell the smells, hear the sounds and feel the weather. You get home – crashing back into normality/’reality’ – you maybe put the kettle on, you unpack and you upload the photos to your computer. If unpacking is the final act of returning to everyday life, the plugging in of the camera is the transference of experience to memory – an act that eases the pain of returning, aiding your return to living in the here and now as opposed to staying in the place you’ve just returned from as you so may want to do.

This digitisation, then, is a good thing helping us to hold onto fond memories much more easily and to progress with our lives. Is this so rapid a movement from remnants of experience to image of one, however, such a good thing? Should we allow our memories a little time to settle themselves before allowing ourselves to look through them and remember the experience? Is reminiscing about a time away by looking through photos immediately upon arrival back a little bit of a strange occurrence?


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